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SubjectsPlanning › Washington State Concurrency Ordinances
Updated 10/2013

Concurrency

Contents

Introduction

Concurrency is one of the goals of the Growth Management Act and refers to the timely provision of public facilities and services relative to the demand for them. To maintain concurrency means that adequate public facilities are in place to serve new development as it occurs or within a specificed time period. The Growth Management Act (GMA) gives special attention to concurrency for transportation.

The GMA requires that transportation improvements or strategies to accommodate development impacts need to be made concurrently with land development. “Concurrent with the development” is defined by the GMA to mean that any needed "improvements or strategies are in place at the time of development, or that a financial commitment is in place to complete the improvements or strategies within six years." RCW 36.70A.070(6)(b). Local governments have flexibility regarding how to apply concurrency within their plans, regulations, and permit systems.

As part of the requirement to develop a comprehensive plan, jurisdictions are required to establish level-of-service standards (LOS) for arterials, transit service, and other facilities. RCW 36.70A.070(6)(a). Once a jurisdiction sets an LOS, it is used to determine whether the impacts of a proposed development can be met through existing capacity and/or to decide what level of additional facilities will be required. Transportation is the only area of concurrency that specifies denial of development if LOS standards cannot be met. However, local jurisdictions must have a program to correct existing deficiencies and bring existing transportation facilities and services up to locally adopted standards. A developer may not be required to pay for improvements to correct existing deficiencies.

Local jurisdictions may adopt a concurrency mechanism for other public facilities that are deemed necessary for development. WAC 365-196-840(2). These other facilities may include parks and recreational facilities, sanitary sewer systems, stormwater facilities, and schools.  

This page includes relevant statutes, general concurrency information, and examples of local government concurrency requirements.

Reference Sources

Statutes and Administrative Regulations

Selected Court and Growth Management Hearings Board Decisions

This section includes two Washington State court decisions and several selected Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) decisions related to concurrency.

  • Spokane County v. E. Wash. Growth Mgmt. Hearings Bd., 173 Wn. App. 310 (2013) - GMA

    The county received an application for an amendment of its comprehensive plan along with a request for a site-specific zone change. A challenge was brought to the Growth Management Hearings Board. The county argued that the Hearings Board did not have jurisdiction to consider the zone change, as that issue could only be challenged through a LUPA action brought in superior court. On appeal, the court disagreed with the county. The rezone was not authorized by the then-existing comprehensive plan, but rather would implement the comprehensive plan amendment, and the Hearings Board had jurisdiction that action. The rezone was an amendment to a development regulation under the GMA because it implemented the comprehensive plan amendment. (The court also dealt with other issues that were more fact specific.)

  • Whatcom County Fire Dist. No. 21 v. Whatcom County, 171 Wn.2d 421 (2011) - Fire protection concurrency

    The court addressed a dispute between the county and a fire district over whether completion of certain proposed developments would reduce fire protection services below an adequate level of service. The court found that the county assigned responsibility for assessing the adequacy of fire protection services to the district, and it reversed the county's approval of the land use applications at issue in this case because the county had not received specific written acknowledgment by the fire district that adequate capacity does or will exist to maintain an appropriate level of fire protection service upon completion of the proposed developments.

  • City of Bellevue v. E. Bellevue Cmty. Mun. Corp., 119 Wn. App. 405 (2003), review denied, 152 Wn.2d 1004 (2004)

    Affirms the Growth Management Hearings Board's conclusion that the Bellevue ordinance, which exempted shopping center redevelopment from transportation concurrency requirements, failed to conform to the GMA's concurrency requirements, and is invalid.

  • Kittitas County Conservation v. Kittitas County, GMHB Case No. 10-1-0013, Final Decision and Order, June 6, 2011 - Transportation concurrency

    Because the county failed to adopt transportation concurrency regulations as required by the GMA, the board found that the petitioners' appeal was not time barred and that the board has jurisdiction to hear this "Failure to Act" appeal. The board also found that the county has failed to adopt a transportation concurrency ordinance, as required by RCW 36.70A.070(6)(b). Because the county failed to adopt such measures, there were no relevant plan components or development regulations to invalidate.

  • Abenroth v. Skagit County, Western Washington GMHB Case No. 97-2-0060c; 07-2-0002, Amended Final Decision and Order, August 6, 2007 - Transportation concurrency

    The county authorized an exception to transportation LOS standards if the developer makes a fair share contribution to a regional improvement in the case of sites located where regional improvements are the only means to improve or maintain the level of service existing prior to the development. The board concluded that the exception allows a reduction below the adopted LOS where there is no reasonable assurance the regional improvement will be constructed, and it held the exception to be noncompliant with RCW 36.70A.070(6) because it did not contain sufficient direction to assure that the exception still meets the requirements for transportation concurrency.

  • Wilma v. Stevens County (Adobe Acrobat Document), Eastern Washington GMHB Case No. 06-1-0009c, Final Decision and Order, 03/12/2007

    Finding that the county needs a policy in its comprehensive plan to provide for concurrency and providing general discussion on concurrency.

  • McVittie v. Snohomish County (Adobe Acrobat Document), Central Puget Sound GMHB Case No. 01-3-0002, Final Decision and Order, 07/25/2001 - Addresses transportation concurrency
  • Taxpayers for Responsible Government v. City of Oak Harbor (Adobe Acrobat Document), Western Washington GMHB No. 96-2-002, Final Decision and Order, 07/1996

    Local governments must consider what facilities and services (in addition to transportation) are necessary to support development, but also have discretion about what facilities are subject to concurrency

General Concurrency Information

This section includes background information, including studies and articles, on concurrency.  Most of these resources address transportation concurrency in particular.

City Code Provisions

The following are selected concurrency provisions from Washington cities.

  • Bellevue City Code Ch. 14.10 - Traffic Standards Code - See Sec. 14.10.030 - Level-of-service standard
  • Bellingham Municipal Code Ch. 13.70 - Multimodal Transportation Concurrency Management - Good example of application of concurrency to various modes of transportation, including pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and arterial streets
  • Gig Harbor Municipal Code Ch. 19.10 - Concurrency Management () and Ch. 19.14 - Concurrency and Impact Fee Program Definitions ()
  • Kent Municipal Code Ch. 12.11 - Concurrency Management
  • Puyallup Municipal Code Ch. 21.18 - Concurrency Management
  • Sammamish Municipal Code Ch. 14A.10 - Concurrency
  • Seattle Land Use Code Ch. 23.52 - Transportation Concurrency Project Review System
  • Spokane Municipal Code Ch. 17D.010 - Concurrency Certification
  • Tacoma Municipal Code Ch. 13.16 - Concurrency Management System (in Title 13 Adobe Acrobat Document)
  • Tumwater Municipal Code Ch. 15.48 - Transportation Concurrency Requirements
  • Zillah Municipal Code Ch. 17.10 - Transportation Concurrency Review (Adobe Acrobat Document)

County Code Provisions

The following are selected concurrency provisions from Washington counties.

  • Clark County Code Ch. 40.350.020 - Transportation Concurrency Management System
  • King County Code Ch. 14.70 - Transportation Concurrency Management and Ch. 21A.28 - Development Standards - Adequacy of Public Facilities and Services ()
  • Snohomish County Code Ch. 30.66B - Concurrency and Road Impact Mitigation
  • Thurston County Code Ch. 17.10 - Transportation Facilities Concurrency Management System

Local Government Concurrency Information and Documents

This section includes information on transportation concurrency and sample concurrency application forms from Washington jurisdictions.  Belingham and Redmond have developed multimodal transportation concurrency programs.

Need more information?

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